Salem Clock Shop

Salem Clock Shop - 1085 Broadway Street NE, Salem, OR 97301† -† (503) 581-3803†† Fax: (503) 581-3331

You can create a home weather station and use it to make accurate local weather forecasts.

Building and Using a

Homemade Weather Station



It doesnít matter whether youíre only eight or well past eighty! Building a simple, homemade weather station and learning to use it to make accurate forecasts can be very interesting and a whole lot of fun. Itís rough science at its best!


But, why do that in this day and age of satellites, Doppler radars and computer-generated weather models, the information from these being available on TV or the Internet instantly?


Well, for one thing, you can be as accurate in local, short-range predictions as the people with all that multi-million dollar gear. How about that?


As projects for the 2003 California Science Fair one student compared traditional folk methods of weather prediction with scientific methods and two other students did research on the accuracy of local professional forecasts. Read about them both here.


In the tests of the traditional folk methods, they scored 34 correct predictions out of 42 total.The scientific method produced 35 correct predictions out of 42.† The control (the Los Angeles Times) scored 35 correct predictions out of 42.


What I found the most interesting about this experiment, was that folks armed with nothing more than a short poem, a peek at the moon, and a couple of surplus pinecones, were virtually as adept as the pros at the LA Times! Score one for the folks!


If you want to learn about the weather, an excellent place to start is with the Forecasting The Weather section. Then, using cheap or free materials, you will learn to build and understand:


           A wind vane (surface wind direction)

           2 different barometers (atmospheric pressure)

           2 different hygrometers (humidity and relative humidity)

           3 different anemometers (surface wind speed)

           2 different nephoscopes (clouds & winds at high altitude)

           A rain gauge

           A snow gauge


Then, you will learn how to:


           Set up your home weather station

           Chart your readings and data

           Watch local TV weather forecasts in a new way


And while youíre doing the above, have fun with these simple experiments:


           Create a cloud in a jar

           Measure the water content of snow

           Determine the distance of a thunderstorm

           Make it rain in a mayonnaise jar

           Make dew and frost in tin cans


These experiments will give you an internalized understanding of important processes involved in the operation of the heat-driven engine that we call the weather.


This is all well worth doing. It connected me more with the non-verbal world of nature by focusing my attention each day on the forces of sun, wind, and water, and broadened my understanding of an important and literally huge part of the world in which we live.


You can do things in any order. You donít have to build all three anemometers or both nephoscopes, for example; just pick whatís right for you.


If youíre a parent with children still at home, this is a† great way to connect. If youíre a child with parents still at home, this is also a great way to connect.


If you are living alone, or if you live with someone who thinks that puttering with sticks, bottles, tin cans and what-not is utterly bats, you can treat this as a form of brave, spiritual journey into great† and arcane forces which places you head-and-shoulders above mere mortals...and If nothing else...itís a great way to kill a rainy day!